Last week in Peru! This week I was in the Lima office putting the finishing touches on my primary deliverables: the fine cocoa proposal for La Convencion and the industry overview for USAID. Lima actually had a last minute holiday scheduled for both Monday and Tuesday to free up traffic for a large conference, but the local head of the TechnoServe (TNS) office and I were in plugging away to finish off some projects. For the proposal in La Convencion, I went through several iterations with the staff to be sure they had various versions for different audiences. Most important was the version that would be used to describe the project to financial backers. Additionally, I wrote objectives and summary roles and responsibilities for new people who would be needed for the project.

On Thursday, I visited USAID at the US Embassy along with Victor Ganoza from TNS who oversees the cocoa projects in Peru. We presented a few slides on the state of the cocoa markets globally, Peru’s competitive positioning and evolution, and some areas of opportunity for further growth along with threats to the industry to monitor. The USAID crowd of 6-8 people were very appreciative of our efforts. There is a lot of data about cocoa markets, and having someone consolidate the key trends for a management review is highly valuable. There were even some very recent developments that caught their attention, and could influence development strategies in the region. Overall, it was a very successful outing and a great way to wrap up the 8 week adventure in Peru.

On Friday evening I had dinner with a few of the key TNS staff members I’d gotten to know, and caught a redeye flight back to LA. I was surprised by feeling sad about leaving behind great new friends, and an exciting project to see through, but I’ll certainly keep in touch and follow the development of the Peruvian cocoa markets in the future.

Hopefully my contribution of business strategy skills and value chain analysis can help increase the quality of life for many of the farmers in the region.

The Volunteer

Don Suskind

SVP, Head of ETF Product Management Newport Beach, California

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